Since the middle of the 20th century, Britain's government, media, and vocal minorities have deliberately and consistently rejected the God of the Bible. The people were led away from biblical truth and morality as Britain's laws and culture were gradually usurped by humanistic laws from Europe, particularly 'Equality Law'. And the media is responsible for promoting anti-God themes e.g. see section 3.7 below. Has this angered God? As with ancient Israel, will the people suffer because of their leaders?
"The leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed" (Isa 9.16)
Do you feel something is wrong with Britain? Has Britain changed for the worse over the years but you can't quite explain why? Is Britain on the ropes? If so, is there a way back? According to the Bible, God is always looking at individual nations and He warns the rebellious ones:
"His eyes observe the nations; do not let the rebellious exalt themselves."(Ps 66.7)
So let's assume that God has had His eye on the British nation (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) over the centuries, and still has. How has Britain performed in His sight? And what does God think of Britain today?
Looking back over the last millennium we could highlight some historical events that surely must have pleased God. These events, driven by Kings, government or inspired individuals seemed to align with what might be perceived as God's Will. Let's list a few examples:
This turned out to be a cornerstone of liberty, influencing the constitutions of much of the civilized world, including the USA, Japan, Germany and many Commonwealth countries. Today in law it still defends the freedom and rights of the English church, and the freedom and rights of an individual. From here British Common Law evolved into the cherished system of Habeas Corpus and trial by jury. We recall that God loves justice and the right treatment of individuals.
John Wycliffe and later William Tyndale (both Englishmen) translated the Bible into English. So from around 1525 AD the scriptures were made public for wide readership - which must have pleased God. Later Bible versions were then used to generate the King James Bible in 1611 AD, a version that lasted through the 20th century.
The English Church was separated from the Papacy in 1534 AD and subsequently the Church of England became Protestant. The Protestant Reformers removed doctrinal error and malpractice and emphasized scripture alone, salvation by grace alone, salvation by faith alone, all done through Christ alone, and all for the glory of God alone. Such return to biblical truth must also have pleased God.
Why is this important? What have the Jews (or Israel) to do with Britain? Well, when God told Abraham that He was going to make him a great nation, He also said:
"And I will bless those who bless you ..." (Gen 12.3)
So when Britain opened up her borders to Jews under Oliver Cromwell around 1656 AD this must have been good in God's sight. Jews came to England in increasing numbers, and for the most part Britain's Jews have been well-treated ever since. Many served in Parliament, and English Jews were strong supporters of the Zionist movement which resettled Jews in Israel.
In November 1917 A.J. Balfour (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, British Foreign Office) stated "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people ...". A few years later the League of Nations gave Britain the Mandate to see this homeland implemented. Many prophecies state that God's people Israel will once again be established in their own land before Christ returns e.g. Ezek 37.21 and Isa 11.12 and Britain seemed to be one of God's chosen agents to do this.
In December 1917 the Battle of Jerusalem resulted in the city of Jerusalem falling to British forces led by General Allenby, an Englishman and a Christian. Prior to the fall of Jerusalem, Allenby had prayed and read his Bible, and it turned out that the Turks gave up the city without firing a shot. Many Christians take this event to be a fulfilment of Jesus' prophecy in Lk 21.24, and see God using Britain to fulfil this prophecy (ending over 2,500 years of Gentile rule).
During the agricultural and industrial revolution, the Wesley (1703-1791) and Whitefield (1714-1770) ministries, together with those of other preachers, ushered in a period of great spiritual revival and strength, the like of which had never been experienced in Britain before. John Wesley believed that he was specially ordered by God to bring about a revival, and his ministry was to spread the Gospel among the working classes who never went to church. Historians speak of this time as 'the great work of grace' that transformed England. Surely God was pleased with this?
The beginning of the eighteenth century was an epoch in the history of Protestant missions, including much activity in Britain. From the 1730's to the mid-20th century, Britain was one of the leaders in missionary activity, spawning many missionary organisations. As a result, the word of God was spread to many nations, including Africa, China, India and South America. In particular, we must not forget Britain's role in founding Christianity in America, when, in September 1620 one hundred Puritans (the 'Pilgrim Fathers) boarded the 'Mayflower' at Plymouth bound for the New World. The Puritans later gave birth to the Baptists and the Congregationalists.
Again, many see God's hand here, first in using Britain to translate the Bible into a common language (English), and then using Britain to spread the gospel throughout the world.
In the first part of the 20th century, Britain experienced great spiritual revivals. It saw the Welsh Revival of 1904 under Evan Roberts, where some 500,000 were converted, the rise of the Pentecostal denominations (Elim and AOG) under George and Stephen Jeffreys, the preaching and healing ministry of Smith Wigglesworth, and the Hebridean Revival under Duncan Campbell's ministry around 1950. These revivals saw many miraculous healings and hundreds of thousands brought to Christ. Undoubtedly these were moves of God across the nation.
We have highlighted a few very significant events in Britain's history which surely must have pleased God. They seem to be in accordance with God's Will as we find it in the Bible. In fact, many see the hand of God in using Britain for His purposes. Was there a knock-on effect? If Britain really did please God, even to the point of being singled out to be used by God, did she receive a blessing from God as in Gen 12.3? If Britain did 'righteous' things in God's sight was she 'exalted' above other nations as in Prov 14.34?
Of course, we could highlight 'bad' events over the past millennium too, like the expulsion of all Jews from England in 1290 AD under Edward 1 (a law lasting some 365 years), and the persecution of Protestants under Bloody Mary. But just like sin in our own lives (we are not perfect) the fact remains that God still uses us and blesses us if we seek to do His Will.
It is interesting that over this period Britain prospered in terms of influence and material wealth, culminating in the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution. The rights and wrongs of Empire can be debated, but the fact remains that Britain prospered over this period. At the height of the British Empire (c1800 - 1900) it was the largest empire in history and the foremost global power. By 1870 Britain was the most industrialised and the most powerful country in the world. Even as late as 1939 the Royal Navy was still the largest navy in the world. In terms of social structure, the Industrial Revolution witnessed the triumph of a middle class of industrialists and businessmen over a landed class of nobility and gentry, and ordinary working people found opportunities for employment increased opportunities for employment. Average income began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth.
Our discussion so far has highlighted some very significant times in Britain's history, up to say mid-20th century, when Britain seemed to be 'a good boy' in God's sight. And it is interesting that Britain prospered and became a great nation. But an examination of Britain's actions in later years paints a less glorious picture. Consider the following.
Unfortunately, Britain failed its Palestinian Mandate responsibility. Between 1922 and 1948 she illegally traded land mandated for the Jewish homeland; she proposed partitioning the remaining land; and most significantly she severely restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine when Jews were fleeing Nazi Europe. Currently the British government takes an anti-Israel stance, notably by pressurizing Israel to make peace with a coalition that states it wants to obliterate Israel.
How serious is such action against Israel? Very serious if we take God's promise to Abraham seriously:
"... the one (individual or nation) who curses you I will curse" (Gen 12.3)
Britain introduced the Contraceptive Pill in 1961 and this is now the most commonly used contraceptive in the UK. Clearly, there are advantages to the Pill in terms of family planning. But the downside is that it encourages widespread promiscuity (sexual immorality) - the number of pre-teenage girls on the Pill has increased fivefold in the past decade. Promiscuity leads to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and despite all the advice, STIs among young people are still increasing . It also undermines parental authority: GPs are allowed to prescribe the Pill to children if they believe an underage girl is mature enough to have sex, and parents have no legal right to be told if their children are being given the Pill. Fornication and disrespect for parents both clash with biblical moral and ethical teaching; yet UK law facilitates both!
The 1967 Abortion Act legalised abortion under certain conditions. The total number of abortions in England and Wales is currently about 200,000 a year. The vast majority of these are carried out under 'Category C' which is effectively for social reasons rather than to save the mother's life - for example if a pregnant woman does not wish to change her lifestyle by remaining pregnant. In 2008 some 98% of abortions in England and Wales were carried out under category C. The Bible is quite clear on the unborn: the unborn is a person known to God (Jer 1.5) - he or she is not a 'foetus'. And God hates the shedding of innocent blood (Prov 6.17).
The situation with marriage is no better. Liberalization of divorce law saw a rapid increase in the number of UK divorces around 1971 (it more than doubled). Britain currently now has one of the highest divorce rates in the world and nearly half of all marriages in England and Wales end in divorce (Office for National Statistics). According to the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), "never in Britain's history has family breakdown hit such heights". So liberalisation of divorce law, and social trends e.g. cohabitation are having a very serious effect on the nation. And what does God say?
"I hate divorce" (Mal 2.16)
Cameron endorses sexual sin!
Cameron endorses sexual sin!
The homosexual debate is on-going. Since the 1960's the UK has progressively legalised private homosexual acts between consenting adults, culminating in anti-discrimination legislation in the Equality Act 2010. A serious effect of such legislation is that UK Christians find it increasingly difficult to express their faith and sexual ethics in the workplace. It also encourages public bodies like the UK Gay Police Association to participate in uniform at Gay Pride Marches, and it encouraged the UK government to scrap the legal definition of marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. Whilst the liberal church may welcome such moves, many Christians see Britain's new equality laws to be in direct conflict with biblical teaching; they are effectively calling evil good and good evil when they sanction deliberate homosexual acts and endorse same-sex marriage:
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil ..." (Isa 5.20)
In 1946, just after the carnage of WWII in Europe, Winston Churchill said:
"We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living." (Speech to the Academic Youth, Zürich, Switzerland, 1946)
Some claim that Churchill meant Britain to be more of an on-looker to Europe rather than a fully paid up member! More to the point, was he right? Isn't the joy and hope in life to be found in Christ rather than in a man-made institution? Which way should we look, to man or to God? Recall
"Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind ... Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord." (Jer 17.5,7)
It turned out that the European nations looked to man, and the EU (a super state which elected to omit the term 'God' in Treaty revisions) finally came into being via the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. A very significant downside is that the Common Law of England, which has Judaeo-Christian roots, is gradually being replaced by humanistic law from Europe. For example, EU Directives on Equality Law are now incorporated into the UK Equality Act 2010.
Britain now has many faiths and related communities e.g. Baha'i; Buddhist; Christian; Hindu; Jain; Jewish; Muslim; Sikh; and Zoroastrian communities. It is good to meet people of other cultures. So what's the problem? For at least 1,000 years Britain has had a Judaeo-Christian culture which laid the foundations of democracy, led to the translation of God's word into the common tongue, spread this word across the world, and supported (at least initially) the concept of a Jewish homeland. Even up to mid-20th century Britain's spiritual outlook was essentially Christian.
But since the mid-20th century Britain has seen a downward trend in church attendance (now just 6% of the population) and many institutional churches close. Since 1980 there has been strong growth in some denominations, namely the Orthodox Church and especially the Pentecostal Church and other Free Churches boosted by ethnic minorities. But overall, UK church attendance is still declining. In contrast, Islam has seen rapid growth: in 1961 there were just 7 mosques, compared to at least 1,500 mosques today. According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK Muslim population is now growing some ten times faster than the rest of society. In 1961 there was just one Hindu temple in England and Wales, compared to around 150 today. The first Shikharbandhi (Jain) Temple to be built on virgin land in Europe was consecrated in August 2005 at Potters Bar, near London.
Why should this be a problem for Britain? Isn't it good to have a diversity of faiths? What does the Bible say?
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD" ( Ps 34.12 )
Here, 'LORD' is a translation from the Hebrew YHWH, pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah and refers to the special or proper name of God. This is not referring to the Allah of Islam or to the 'Supreme Reality' (Brahman) of Hinduism or to the god of Pantheism. It is a reference to the God of Israel, the God of the Bible. By openly embracing other faiths, and falling away from the Christian faith, Britain has broken the first commandment:
"You shall have no other God's before Me." ( Exod 20.3 )
Are Britain's young being fed lies?
Take morality. Today's Britain holds fast to 'moral' relativism, namely, "morals are relative to culture and society - so all morals are equally valid; homosexual activity is as acceptable as heterosexual activity; the absolute morality of the Bible is outdated". So we hear Nick Clegg stating that all faith schools in the United Kingdom should be legally obliged to teach children that homosexuality is normal and David Cameron apologising for Section 28, the legislation which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools. And we find a government-funded initiative saying that in state-funded schools children as young as five should learn about gay relationships and boys should be allowed to express their feminine sides by dressing in frocks!
What about religious pluralism? This maintains that all religions are equally valid ways to God. In the name of 'tolerance' it says "your way through Jesus is true", and "my way through meditation is true". So Christianity is only offered as one alternative way to God, and not 'the only way to God' as in John 14.6.
What about the origin of man? Today Britain maintains "macro-evolution is scientific fact" and ridicules the biblical creation account. But Darwinian macro-evolution (involving transitions between distinct species) is far from established as a fact and there is considerable scientific support for the accuracy of the biblical account of creation (see Creation Science Movement and Young Earth Science). To rule out a balanced teaching of both is unscientific. But the real problem lies in the underlying atheistic thesis that we are here by chance and it didn't need a Creator God! Clearly, the teaching of evolutionary science without reference to creation science (which gives significant scientific support to creationism) undermines the authority of the Bible in the eyes of British children. In fact, take away the concept of creation, and the rest of the Bible becomes meaningless.
The UK Department for Education now effectively bars the teaching of creationism in science classes. Funding can be withdrawn for any free school that teaches "evidence-based views or theories" that run contrary to (so-called) established scientific evidence.
As the Bible says, "truth is fallen in the street" (Isa 59.14).
A nation follows its leaders, be they monarchs, spiritual leaders, inspired individuals, or government. And good and bad leaders have good and bad effects upon their nation. This pattern is clearly seen in the case of Old Testament Judah: King Hezekiah 'clung to the Lord' and Judah prospered (2 Kings 18.1-8), whilst King Manasseh 'seduced the people to do evil' in the sight of the Lord and 'brought calamity on Jerusalem and Judah' (2 Kings 21.1-16). This pattern is repeated throughout the OT. In short, righteous authority prospers a nation; unrighteousness authority destroys a nation (Prov 29.2).
So what about Britain's leaders today? Sadly they don't point the nation to the God of the Bible. In fact they deliberately back away from doing this. When Tony Blair was asked by the Rev. Ian Paisley to issue a call for a national day of prayer, he replied:
"I am sure that the nation will pray in its own way for what the hon. Gentleman says. I do not know whether it is right for Government to impose that ..."
And when Tony Blair was asked in an interview about his Christian faith, he was interrupted by his spin-doctor Alistair Campbell (an atheist) who said: 'I'm sorry, we don't do God.' Surely, a government that does not 'do' God is missing something important?
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, demonstrates political correctness when he treads the interfaith path without stressing that Christ is the one and only way to God. For example, to endorse Jainism is to endorse a faith that rejects the idea of a Creator God! Sadly, with government help, the Queen has also fallen into the politically correct chasm. In 2010 the Queen (barefoot and with covered head) visited the largest mosque in Abu Dhabi as part of a state visit to the UAE. Here we have the defender of the Christian faith showing respect to Muslims by visiting a national Islamic shrine. So why does the British Foreign Office not allow the Queen to show respect to the Jews through a state visit to Israel?
It seems that in order to appease all faiths and not to cause offense, Britain's leaders shy away from upholding Christianity as unique amongst faiths. They no longer point the nation to the uniqueness of the God of Israel. This is a sad indictment on them and on Britain's political correctness and godlessness.
The closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London was broadcast to the world. It could have reflected the Christian heritage of the nation and glorified God. Instead it carried a strong occult theme and glorified Satan. It embraced the concepts of wizards, elves, ghosts, the new world order, heaven and hell, money, death, the sea goddess, Lucifer and the phoenix bird. The phoenix is an Egyptian symbol of rebirth and immortality.
Some of the lyrics invoked the spirit world:
"I call upon the spirit of Autumn. The spirit of water, of the ebb and flow of emotion; of open seas and running streams, of cleansing rain; spirit of the evening sun, of twilight and of Autumn.
I call upon the spirit of Winter. The spirit of earth, of the womb of creation; of the night and the snows of winter, deep roots and ancient stones."
How does the God of Israel, the one true holy and righteous God respond to such defiance?
We have presented a brief review of the spiritual activity and status of Britain over the ages (a more detailed analysis can be found at SeekingTruth). Undoubtedly Britain's spiritual state has ebbed and flowed when we look at detail, but can we see a spiritual trend?
Consider the 1,000 year period up to the start of 20th century. Britain seemed to be used by God in some very significant ways. Britain opened up the Bible to the common man, enthusiastically spread the Gospel at home and abroad, generally supported the Jews, and developed a democracy (Common Law) with Judeo-Christian roots that became the envy of nations. But around the mid-20th century it seems that Britain made determined moves away from these things and away from the Will of God and His word. Britain failed to support Israel, started looking to humanistic government (Europe), relaxed laws on sexuality, abortion and divorce, embraced other faiths and their gods, failed to uphold Christianity as unique amongst faiths and abandoned biblical creation for Darwinian evolution. And, overall, the British people walked away from Christianity.
This spiritual and moral decline was accompanied by economic decline, and the decline of the British Empire. Undoubtedly, between 1870 and the end of the 20th century, Britain saw a significant rise in living standards. But from the late 19th century onwards Britain experienced a relative economic decline when compared to the world's other leading economies. In 1870, Britain's output per head was the second highest in the world after Australia. By 1914, it was fourth highest, having been overtaken. In 1950, British output per head was still 30 per cent ahead of the six founder members of the EEC, but within 50 years it had been overtaken by many European and several Asian countries.
Each year Britain has a budget deficit and so has to sell bonds (gilts) to investors to plug the gap. These bonds have to be repaid, so each year Britain builds up her National Debt (also known as Public Debt or Government Debt). This is the amount government owes to national and foreign investors (creditors). Between 2008 and 2012, Government Debt to GDP doubled from 44% to 88%, and is forecast to approach 100% in the next few years. The debt-GDP ratio is used by investors to assess the UK's ability to make future debt repayments, and so affects the UK's borrowing costs. In 2010 general government debt was £1100 billion and in July 2011 government public sector net debt (PSDN) rose by £134m per day! Today, Britain's National Debt is a ticking bomb!
Despite this analysis, you may still feel that there is nothing much wrong with Britain. You may still feel that Britain is not on the spiritual and economic ropes. You might point out that Britain still ranks 5th in the world in terms of GDP, people still have good living standards compared to previous centuries, we are still holding on to a form of Judaeo-Christian democracy, and Christianity still seems very much alive (at least some of Britain's churches are thriving, namely the Orthodox Church and the Pentecostal Church and there is much Christian activity at 'street level').
But how does God see it?
Surely a nation must be in danger of angering God if it flouts God's Will as revealed in the Bible? Israel angered God by pursuing 'wicked ways' (2 Chron 7.14)(Dan 9.5) and by 'doing evil' in God's sight (Jer 18.8,10). Let's summarise how Britain might be angering God by pursuing 'wicked ways':
For a detailed expansion of these points, see Britain in Danger.
Many will still dispute the idea that Britain has greatly angered God, claiming that Britain remains essentially a Christian nation, with a strong Christian witness trying to do God's Will e.g. Britain's new laws minimise discrimination and Britain helps poor nations with overseas aid. But suppose they are wrong and Britain really has angered God over recent years by deliberately going against biblical injunctions? What might happen?
In Deut 28 we read how God would deal with the nation Israel if they were disobedient to Him; a catalogue of disasters would be inflicted upon Israel until they were destroyed. It is reasonable to suppose that many of the disasters (curses) detailed in Deut 28 could well be applied in some form (maybe as warnings) to present-day rebellious nations like Britain. For instance, based upon Deut 28, Britain might expect to experience problems similar to the following:
A discussion on whether Britain is currently experiencing similar judgements can be found at Britain in Danger.
For those who feel Britain is in danger of God's judgment (or is even now experiencing God's warnings) there is hope. Recall God's promise to secular (gentile or heathen) nations:
"The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it." ( Jer 18.7,8 )
It is clear from this verse that avoidance of national disaster and the healing of a nation is possible. So there is hope for Britain and there are signs of Christians waking up and getting onto the streets with Christ's love. Some churches are growing and some Christian organisations are standing in the breach and campaigning against bad law and godless activity in Britain (Christian Concern , Barnabas Fund , Christian Voice , Care , Evangelical Alliance and others). Britain needs Christians to be salt and light in society, as in the days of Knox, Wesley, Wilberforce and Mary Whitehouse.
But note that Jer 18.7,8 is conditional: a nation must first repent of evil ways. So perhaps most of all, Britain needs her intercessors - a faithful 'remnant' humbling themselves in prayer, seeking the Lord's forgiveness and mercy for the failings of both Church and government, and praying for the Holy Spirit to turn the British people to repentance. This is particularly important for Britain's children. For suggestions on how the church should intercede for Britain in prayer please see the last pages of Britain in Danger.
"Prayer, along with serious fasting, if done in one accord and on a massive scale by the people of God in a given nation, can and will release the hand of God to literally transform the whole nation." [ C. Peter Wagner, 'Praying with Power' ]
The prophecy about Britain at the top of this page should stimulate the church to intercede!
Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible
Related topic: Britain in Danger